The scheduling gods giveth, taketh away, and giveth again! In a season that is very much shaping up to be a scheduling TBD, Gonzaga lost its game against No. 12 Tennessee yesterday after a spate of positive COVID test results in the Volunteers program resulted in cancellation of the game scheduled to take place next week.
24 hours later, that hole in Gonzaga’s schedule looks like it will be filled by No. 15 West Virginia.
Sources: West Virginia is expected to replace Tennessee and face Gonzaga in next week's Jimmy V Classic in Indianapolis.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 25, 2020
The expediency in which the Zags adjusted their schedule is only outdone by the quality of opponent they were able to find. A rematch with Tennessee was going to be really fun, but a game against the Mountaineers is always a good time. Look no further than the last time these two teams played during the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament when Jordan Mathews made THAT shot.
West Virginia presents a slightly different challenge than Tennessee with the pressure that Bob Huggins likes to apply, so it’s probably a good thing that Andrew Nembhard was deemed eligible to play this season after the NCAA granted him a waiver. His presence will take a lot of pressure off Jalen Suggs and having two skilled ballhandlers (plus Ayayi and Cook) should really help the Zags in this game.
The game will still proceed in Indianapolis on December 2, and the quick rescheduling was almost assuredly aided by the fact this event is tied to an important cause in the Jimmy V Classic and is owned by and meaningful to ESPN.
Salute to the coaching staffs of the respective programs and their athletic departments for embracing the quirks of this season to date and for accepting a tough game on short notice. Finding a way to make a quality game happen for this event and early in the season is a big win for college basketball fans.